Commander Exercise 5 – Dimir… Burn?

Hi everyone! Welcome back to Commander Exercise, the series where I build EDH deck for fun and to improve my deck building skills.
This time I got challenged by my dear friend Giovanni to build a deck that win mostly by doing direct damage to the faces of your opponents, like the classic Burn decks we see in Modern, Legacy or Pauper. The other condition was that it got to be in Dimir colors. It could be worse… I think… at least black has some damaging spells…

The first thing I did was looking for a Commander that could suit this kind of playstyle. My final choice was between The Scarab God and Sygg, River Cutthroat; I ended up using the Merfolk. Sure The Scarab God is really powerful and one of his abilities can deal a lot of damage the our opponents, but I thought that by choosing him the deck would turn more in a Zombie Tribal then a Burn one.
Sygg instead gives us an additional advantage but letting us draw when an opponent lose life. The best part is that his ability also count damage that the other opponents do to each other and so Sygg can draw us a lot of cards.

The next thing I did was checking which damaging spells are available in this two colors. As expected black have a lots of them, not as many and as powerful as red, but we have something; it could have been much worst if he challenged me to build a Simic Burn deck.
Winning with spells that do direct damage is hard in Commander, as you are facing three opponents with 40 life each. You aren’t the only one doing damage, that’s true, but they are still a lot.
Lot of life means that you need lot of damaging spells to win. To optimize this I decided to use recurrable spells and go with a Stax style where to pay your taxes you have to sacrifice life.

In the end I came up with the following deck, going with a 200$ budget:
Commander Exercise 5 – Dimir Burn

The ramp is composed by the classic mana rocks for a dimir deck… plus Hierophant’s Chalice. Yes… we are going to hit an opponent into the face even when ramping.

Blasting Spells
Lots of spells here to tax our opponents and the best of the is probably Painful Quandary. We have also some big damage spells like Exsanguinate and some recurrable ones like Syphon Life, but most of our damage will be done by taxing in some way.
Bloodchief Ascension is the most powerful one here as, when set up, will start punishing our opponents for every spell they play and for every dying creatures; a wrath could become lethal even for the opponents with this and not only for the creatures.
A funny addition here is our blue burn spells: Mind Bomb. We don’t mind taking three damage if we get to do three damage to all our opponents or make them discard cards.

Blasting Creatures
Here we have the most powerful of our taxes: Ob Nixilis, Unshackled; 10 damages every time they use a fetchlands or tutor for something is huge… and they also have to sacrifice a creature!
Other tax effects are here in the form of Fate Unraveler and Soot Imp but we also have creatures that can do direct damage like Kokusho, the Evening Star.
Chancellor of the Dross is a card that is awesome to have in out opening hand; it don’t do direct damage in all the other situations but it could be nice to have a big flying lifelinker in play sometimes.

Blasting Artifact
The taxing here levels up thanks to cards like God-Pharaoh’s Statue and Isolation Cell. The statue is a tax effect that also does damage to our opponents every turn. The Isolation Cell taxs our opponents by having them paying two more to cast they spells or lose two life.
A clunky card I wanted to had because I thought it could add some funny moment to the game is Time Bomb. It doesn’t seem a dangerous cards and so it could grow bigger and bigger until we use them to blow up the table.

Blasting PW
In the deck we also have two Planeswalker that can help us: Ob Nixilis, the Hate-Twisted and Sorin Markov.
Ob-Nixilis is basically a tax effect with a removal option attached to it. Sorin can do direct damage while also gain us life and has the huge bonus to have the ability to reduce our opponents life to 10.

Death Star Combo
I wanted to also add two combos that could end a game by doing direct damage. The first one is a combo composed by Aetherflux Reservoir, Bolas’s Citadel and Sensei’s Divining Top.
You have to have all of them on the field; you tap the Top to draw a card and put it on the top of the deck; than use the Citadel to cast it by paying one life and the Reservoir make you gain life because you casted a spell. Repeat the process. After doing this for like 18 times, you would have gain 153 life… usually enough to use the Reservoir to kill all the other players.

Mill Combo
The second combo have the results of eliminating a player with direct damage or by milling him.
You need to have Duskmantle Guildmage and Mindcrank both of the field. When a cards is going to be put in an opponent’s graveyard or an opponents is going to lose life, activate the first ability of the Guildmage. The mage will damage the opponent for every card he put into his graveyard, triggering the Mindcrank which will mill him; the cards milled by the Mindcrank will go to the graveyard and this will trigger the Guildmage ability and so on… generating a loop that will end only with the opponent losing.

A Little Help
This section was for holding cards that would help our main plan while they didn’t necessarily do direct damages. After all the deck building process and the final trimming, I ended up having a single card here: Tree of Perdition.
The Tree has the same role of Sorin’s -3 in the deck: reducing our opponents life to a level that makes easier to win with direct damages.

Removal & Counters
In the end, the most of our deck is black but we need to have way to remove threats to our deck (like that pesky artifacts that prevent life from changing) and so here is were blue shines.
The counterspells I like the more here are: Countersquall, Disallow and Undermine. I love Undermine and Countersquall because they not only counter a spell, but they also do damage to that spell’s controller. The fact that Disallow lets us counter abilities for me makes it a staple in my blue deck. You are going to activate your planeswalker’s ultimate? Nope!
Also I added Mutilate to the deck as we play lots of swamps and this could be a cheap (budget speaking) way to remove indestructible creatures.

By playing combos I think that having some tutors is necessary. Luckily we play black which is the home of the best tutors.
Demonic Collusion is pretty good here as it lets us buy it back by discarding two cards. With the card draw from our commander it could be easy to assemble a combo with only this tutor.

The final section of the deck is dedicated to lands. We have to play lots of black sources, not only because most of our deck is black, but also because we need that mana to activate effects like Pestilence.
Also if we are a burn deck we need to do damage even with our lands! So I added Leechridden Swamp, Piranha Marsh and Sunscorched Desert.

For sure it was strange to build this deck. This isn’t absolutely my playstyle in EDH and for sure I wouldn’t have chosen this color combination to build a deck with this plan. Sure it was a good deckbuilding challenge, trying to figure out how to make it work.

I hope you enjoyed this article. Let me know how you would have built it differently, what you will have added and what not…
Also don’t forget to suggest me what I should build next.

One comment

  1. […] Best MTG Post: Commander Exercise 5 – Dimir… Burn?This year I also started my series “Commander Exercise”. I always loved to build EDH deck and this series gave me a way to do it while giving myself funny restriction that helped me improving my deckbuilding skills; but the best part of it was seeing my decklist becoming useful starting points for other players willing to play with these Commanders.The best MtG post of the year comes from this series and it’s the deck that my friend Giovanni suggested me to brew: Dimir Burn!Probably the fusion between Burn in Commander and not using Red for it made this post extremely popular and it made it the most viewed post of the year! […]


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